The Stig

The Stig

name = The Stig

caption = The Stig at the 2006 British International Motor Show.
birth_date = Unknown
birthplace = Unknown
occupation = Test driver and trainer for celebrity guests

The Stig is the name given to the anonymous racing driver on the BBC motoring show "Top Gear". In the show he is cast as a mysterious "tame racing driver" [cite web|url=|publisher=BBC Television, Top Gear (current format)|quote=Every performance road car that comes to the Top Gear test track eventually ends up in the hands of our tame racing driver.|accessdate=2008-08-08|title=Power Laps] whose identity is unknown, and who never speaks or removes his helmet on camera. Nonetheless he is fully credited as a presenter, albeit as "The Stig", alongside Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.

The Stig's primary functions on the show are to post lap times in various cars around the Top Gear Test Track in Dunsfold Park, and to train each week's guest in setting a lap time in the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car feature on the show. In addition the Stig carries out other driving duties when the need arises.

The Stig has also appeared on some of Jeremy Clarkson's motoring specials, such as "Heaven and Hell" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", as well as on BBC's "Whizz Whizz Bang Bang".


The Stig's name derives from presenter Jeremy Clarkson's days at Repton School; where, according to Clarkson, new students were always called "Stig". [cite web |last=Rufford |first=Nicholas |coauthors=Smith, Emma |url= |title=The backroom boy who put Top Gear on top of the world |work=The Sunday Times |publisher=News International |date = 2005-11-06 |accessdate=2006-09-26 |quote=... and then we started to think about reviving Top Gear in a new format, with a track, special guests and the Stig — new boys at Repton were always called Stig...] A proposed name for the Stig was originally "The Gimp" until protests from Perry McCarthy put a stop to the idea.cite web |last=Collantine |first=Keith |url= |title=The original Stig speaks |work=Auto Trader |publisher=Trader Media Group |date=2006-11-01 |accessdate=2006-11-01 |quote=McCarthy originally attended a screen-test to be a Top Gear presenter. But then the producers conjured up the idea of having an anonymous racing driver – which they wanted to call "The Gimp". "I just said 'no'," he laughs. "I didn’t want to be known as "The Gimp". Finally we settled on "The Stig"] There have been two official Stigs on the show, while various other Stigs have made cameo appearances for particular episodes.

Black Stig

The first Stig wore black overalls and helmet. It was introduced in the first episode of the current format by Jeremy Clarkson as the resident test driver, as the presenters could not consistently post fast times themselves. Clarkson noted that "we don't know its name, we really don't know its name, nobody knows its name, and we don't wanna know, cause it's a racing driver." Clarkson then described The Stig as having a very small brain, who had worthless opinions, and a disorder described by Clarkson as "Mansell Syndrome". Its job description was to "just go out there and drive fast". ["Top Gear" Series 1, Episode 1 (2002-10-20)]

Black Stig posted a lap time of 1:46 for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment. This Stig was used for the first two series of the show. It was then "killed off" at the start of the third series when he was shown driving a modified Jaguar XJ-S off the flight deck of HMS "Invincible" during a stunt and landing in the sea. ["Top Gear" Series 3, Episode 1 (2003-10-26)]

White Stig

After the Black Stig was "killed off", a new "White Stig" was introduced, wearing white overalls and helmet. ["Top Gear" Series 3, Episode 2 (2003-11-02)] White Stig has been featured in the show beyond just the Power Lap segment. His work has included driving cars in other segments of the show, for example finding a winner between the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, BMW M6 and Porsche 911 Carrera S on the Isle of Man, ["Top Gear" Series 7, Episode 1] and racing against the hosts in a bid to see who would cross the starting line at a race track; White Stig driving a Caterham Seven kit car from Caterham, Surrey to Knockhill racetrack in Scotland against the hosts in assembling an identical car from the ground up. ["Top Gear" Series 8, Episode 7 (2006-07-23)] In Series 10 The Stig was recruited to take public transport in the Cross London Challenge and had to deal with such tasks as riding a bus, using an Oyster Card and having to answer a mobile phone (but instead just stared at the ringing device). ["Top Gear" Series 10, Episode 5 (2007-11-11)]

White Stig has also appeared outside "Top Gear" in some of Clarkson's motoring specials, such as "The Good, The Bad, The Ugly" where Clarkson reviewed and compared American and non-American cars, "Heaven and Hell", where the Stig was used to compare the track times of the Chevrolet Corvette C6 and the TVR Sagaris, and raced Clarkson, in a BMW M5, with a Ferrari F430. In Clarkson's latest DVD, "Supercar Showdown", The Stig (in a Porsche 911) raced Sabine Schmitz (in an Audi R8) around the Ascari track in Spain to see which was the fastest.

White Stig posted the fastest lap time of 1:44.4 around the "Top Gear" test track for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car segment.

Marketing in the lead up to "Top Gear Australia" stated that the the cast would include The Stig's "Australian cousin" [cite web|url=|title=Australian Top Gear presenters revealed|publisher=BBC Worldwide Press Releases|date=2008-05-28|accessdate=2008-09-01] but in the first episode he was introduced as The Stig.

Cameo appearances

There have been two cameo appearances by other Stigs on the show.

Episode 3 of Series 9 was set in the United States, with the presenters purchasing American cars and driving them across four states whilst on holiday. One of the challenges set for the presenters was for the cars to set a lap time around a racetrack, for which "the Stig's American cousin" was introduced. He was nicknamed "Big Stig" by the presenters, due to being somewhat overweight.

Episode 4 of Series 10 featured the presenters driving across Botswana. To test the performance of the three cars used by the presenters around a dirt rally track, Clarkson introduced "The Stig's African cousin." This incarnation of The Stig was black, wore only "Puma" shoes, a loincloth and the iconic white helmet. He set lap times for two of the cars, but walked away from the track when Clarkson's Lancia Beta failed to start. The others joked that African Stig was trying to get a respectable time by walking the course, and didn't bother using the car as it was too slow.


The Stig's fastest official lap time around the "Top Gear" test track was 1 minute 17.1 seconds in a Gumpert Apollo. ["Top Gear" Series 10, Episode 9 (2007-12-09)] Faster times had previously been posted in a Renault F1 car (0.59.0), ["Top Gear" Series 5, Episode 8 (2004-12-19)] an Aston Martin DBR9 (1.08.6) ["Top Gear" Series 6, Episode 6 (2005-07-03)] and a Caparo T1 (1:10.6). ["Top Gear" Series 10, Episode 5 (2007-11-11)] But the times of these cars were not included on the Lap Board because they were either: not deemed street-practical due to their inability to navigate UK regulation speed bumps, or because they could not be purchased by the public.


The Stig's true identity is never revealed on the show, and in order to maintain the secrecy, all shots show him wearing full racing overalls and matching Simpson Diamondback helmet. cite book
last = McCarthy
first = Perry
authorlink = Perry McCarthy
coauthors =
title =
publisher = Haynes Publishing Group
date = 2002
isbn = 1-85960-886-8
] [cite web
url =
title = Karting gear - helmets and visors
work = Thrashed Racing
date = 2007-11-26
accessdate = 2008-04-06
] All that can be seen from the gap between his helmet and jumpsuit is that he is a white male with dark hair. It is also known that he wears Size 10 racing boots as discovered by the Sunday Times [cite web
url =,,22750-2270385_3,00.html
title = Bad boys are back in town
work = The Sunday Times
publisher = News International
date = 2006-06-16
accessdate = 2006-09-26
] and a well-timed camera flash managed to show The Stig's eyes by Auto Trader.cite web
last = Milne
first = Stuart
url =
title = Top Gear's The Stig - unmasked at last?
work = Auto Trader
publisher = Trader Media Group
date = 2008-02-22
accessdate = 2008-02-22
quote = This is the first glimpse of the man behind The Stig's trademark white crash helmet... This sensational photograph was taken in London yesterday and gives a clear view of his eyes through his crash helmet's black visor, but has left experts mystified as to his true identity.

The identity of Black Stig was revealed to be Perry McCarthy when his book "Flat Out, Flat Broke" was published in 2003. McCarthy is a former Formula 1 driver and test driver for the Benetton, Arrows and Williams teams, and also tested for BMW F1.

The identity of White Stig has not been officially revealed. In a Winter Olympics special episode of "Top Gear", The Stig was shown doing a ski jump using a snowmobile. According to the Swedish tabloid newspaper "Aftonbladet", the driver performing the ski jump stunt was Dan Lang, a Swedish snowmobile cross driver. [cite news
url =,2789,788722,00.html
title = Han hoppar med skoter
language = Swedish
work = Aftonbladet
publisher = Landsorganisationen i Sverige/Schibsted
date = 2006-03-07
accessdate = 2007-09-26
quote = _sv. Dan Lang flög ut från OS-backen i 134 km/h. I 134 kilometer i timmen hoppade Dan Lang, 24, ut från 90-meterbacken i Lillehammer. På skoter.
] In January 2006, a Daily Express article reported that Julian Bailey was The Stig. [cite news
last = Lorraine
first = Veronica
title = 'The Stig' is unmasked
work = Daily Express
publisher = Northern and Shell Media
date = 2006-01-16
quote = We can reveal he is none other than former Formula 1 and British touring car championship driver Julian Bailey.
] The Stig has talked in an interview with a Dutch TV Channel, Veronica where he had a distinctly English accent. [ [ The Stig Speaks?] Posted 2007-03-12 at 13:17 GMT] Both Darren Turner and Ben Collins have been linked to the role, with "The Scotsman" quoting Susie Stoddart as stating "OK, there are two Stigs. One is Ben Collins and the other is Darren Turner. How do I know? I'm a racing driver, nothing stays a secret for long in motorsport." [cite news
title= Some say he's Top Gear's true star. We only know he's The Stig
date=March 28, 2008
work=The Scotsman

Collins has also been the subject of online speculation, although he has denied this, stating "those rumours are absolute nonsense" in the "Western Daily Press" newspaper.cite news
last = Dave
first = Clensy
title = Life in the fast lane
work = Western Daily Press
publisher =
date = 2008-03-01
quote = So, is he The Stig? "No," Ben laughs, as we order a coffee in the bar of the Avon Gorge Hotel, "those rumours are absolute nonsense". That said, YouTube is flooded with films showing an unbroadcast scene where The Stig speaks - sounding uncannily like Ben.
] Collins was also referred to in the Health and Safety Executive report into the accident of Richard Hammond, named as a person "who worked closely with Top Gear as a high performance driver and consultant". However the report did not go so far as to name him as the Stig. [cite web | work=Health and Safety Executive | title=Investigation into the accident of Richard Hammond, page 5 | url= | accessdate=2007-06-23] In January of 2007 Auto Trader also commented on the possibility that Collins is The Stig, noting online speculation after "his appearance on Top Gear as part of a parachuting stunt", but also commenting that "(a)t 1.87m in height (over six feet) he could be too tall for the Stig’s racing suit." They quoted William Hill as offering odds of 8/1 against Collins being The Stig, with Russ Swift the 2/1 favourite. [cite news
title=Trackside - Who is the Stig?
date=22 January 2007
work=Auto Trader
] While Top Gear was filming in Zolder on 22 May 2008 doing a future segment, a camera crew shot footage claiming that they pictured The Stig as test driver Tim Schrick, [cite web
url =
title = TVL - Top Gear in Zolder
work = TV Limburg
date = 2009-05-22
accessdate = 2008-05-26
language = Dutch
] though further evidence has refuted that claim, including Tim Schrick racing the Stig as part of the Germany vs England feature in Episode 6 of Series 11. [cite web
url =
title = UPDATE: The Stig NOT revealed... in Belgium?
work = Autoblog
date = 2008-05-22
accessdate = 2008-05-26
] [cite web
url =
title = No, Tim Schrick Is Not One Of The Stigs
work =
date = 2008-05-23
accessdate = 2008-05-26

Both Russ Swift [cite web
last = Collantine
first = Keith
title = Stunt driver Russ Swift
work = Auto Trader
date = 2007-01-17
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-18
quote = 'Are you the Stig from Top Gear?' "(Pause) No comment. What we... (laughs) what Top Gear like about the Stig is the fact that nobody knows who it is. A lot of people think it's Damon Hill. It is not one person."
] and Perry McCarthy have claimed that there is more than one driver who plays the role of The Stig.

The show has alluded to The Stig with Formula 1 drivers that visit the show. In the 26 June 2005 episode, Damon Hill appeared as the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car". When asked directly by Clarkson if he was The Stig, Hill played on the fact that he may be The Stig, but then denied it. [cite web
title = Top Gear Videos, Celeb Laps: Damon Hill
work =
url =
accessdate = 2006-10-08
] Mark Webber was interviewed on 31 July 2005 and at the conclusion of his lap, Clarkson presented him with an "I AM THE STIG" T-shirt.

When former F1 driver Nigel Mansell appeared on the show, Jeremy Clarkson noted that The Stig theorised that the Suzuki Liana (the show's "reasonably priced car" at the time) could achieve a 1:44 time on the track. ["Top Gear" Series 7, Episode 5 (2005-12-11) Clarkson: "The Stig has always told us, that track would give us a 1:44 in that car, and I thought..."] Mansell proved the Stig's theory by lapping in a time of 1:44.6; The Stig subsequently posted a lap-time of 1:44.4 in the Liana. During the review of Jenson Button's lap, Clarkson commented that he, as did most of the other F1 drivers, took very different racing lines from The Stig's. Button commented that "...obviously, The Stig isn't a Formula One Driver, then", to which Clarkson replied, "might be." ["Top Gear" Series 8, Episode 8 (2006-07-30) Clarkson: "You do that line as well! Formula One drivers all do that and The Stig doesn't!" Button: "Oh really?" Clarkson: "No." Button: "Well obviously, The Stig isn't a Formula One Driver, then." Clarkson: "Might be."]

Although The Stig does talk with celebrities while preparing them for their "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" lap times, he is never shown talking on screen, and in Top Gear magazine articles he is portrayed as unable or unwilling to talk. Clarkson has written that The Stig is not permitted to talk on screen because any opinion he might voice on cars would be rubbish. [cite web
url =
title = Volvo XC70 SE Sport
work = Sunday Times
publisher = News International
date = 2007-09-23
accessdate = 2007-12-26

Listening habits

Another source of entertainment for the presenters is the music The Stig listens to whilst doing Power Laps around the Top Gear track. Often a specific genre will be chosen for one or more series. These have included power ballads, one-hit wonders, easy listening, country and western, prog rock, baroque, advertising jingles, foreign language tapes, romantic novels, salesman techniques, the speeches of Margaret Thatcher, and self-help tapes.


The hosts of the show will often introduce footage of The Stig by offering humorous speculations as to his identity, such as "Some say that his voice can only be heard by cats, and that he is banned from the city of Chichester. All we know is... he's called The Stig." The introductions often include references to topical news stories. Previously, Stig's name would be used in formal introductions, such as "His Holiness, The Stig!" episode|date=May 2008


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